The Leap Stories #54: Kate Hogan

So one day I open my inbox and there’s an email from a lovely woman called Kate, asking what it would take for us to travel from Melbourne to run a content marketing workshop in central west New South Wales, Australia. She said she already had attendees lined up, an in with the local business association, and a venue and accommodation sorted at an luxury eco retreat. All we had to do was say yes. It was pretty much a no brainer, and one of the loveliest workshop experiences we’ve ever had with a (dining/lounge) room full of phenomenal regional creatives!

And it was all because of this week’s leaping lady, Kate Hogan, founder of minimalist homewares brand No.97. She’d taken a chance to email us and just ask the question. I’d later find out that Kate was actually a qualified PE teacher, who had recently made a start in own business while also making a baby!

You’ll read that while Kate started out by making candles as guest gifts for a friend’s wedding, her leap actually came at the point she decided to ‘do this properly’. She’d worked on the side, using her spare time and cash to get her market stall thriving, but the decisive moment of wholeheartedly leaping into her business changed everything. Her sister is now her business partner, and aside from candles, Kate now produces blankets, tea towels, serving ware and greeting cards.

Deciding to go for it is where it starts. Take your tinkering and ask yourself, ‘What if I took this up a level? What would I need to do this properly? What does the next iteration of this little leap look like? What’s the one small next thing I could do to go there?’

Now sweet kin, let the pondering begin.

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Gorgeous Kate (left) in stripes, founder of No.97 and her sister Mel, part of the team too as their graphic designer and business partner.

What did you want to be when you grew up and why?

During high school, I always had an interest in the body and sport, so I was thinking along the lines of physiotherapy or PDHPE teaching. I believe, in the end, I was drawn to teaching, in some way, after seeing both my parents enjoy teaching for so many years.

What did/do you study?

I went on to study a Bachelor of Human Movement and Bachelor of Teaching (secondary) at CSU in Bathurst. I have always had a creative streak, however, I was not really the creative one in the family (that was Mel, my sister and now business partner). Something was obviously brewing inside, as once I finished uni and moved to Sydney to begin teaching, I enrolled in a small business course through TAFE, just out of interest really. I didn’t have any plans for starting a business at this point.

What has been your most scary/courageous leap you’ve ever made (preferably in your business/career/life direction)?

The biggest leap for me both personally and professionally happened at the same time. I had been playing around with candles and doing markets for a little while and I had a ‘if you are doing this, do it properly’ moment and that’s where it really kicked off. It may have been the hormones, as I was about four months pregnant at the time, but I am so glad that I made the decision to take that little step (I am not sure it was a giant leap). Within a few short weeks, I had a basic website, new labels, glassware and packaging and it dawned on me that I had created a little business, that I was doing it, it was happening!

Kate Hogan Quote 1

What were you doing before you made your leap?

I was teaching full-time and playing with all things craft.

Who have been the biggest 3 – 5 influences in your life, in terms of your career and doing work?

So many people have influenced me and the path I have found myself on, but none more than those closest to me. These four are the people I see almost daily and they all have had such a huge impact on me as a person and the business. These are the ones that I get excited to share ideas and achievements with!

I would say firstly my mum and dad. They have both taught all four of their children a serious work ethic! I am a bit like dad, he would say he is an ‘ideas man’ and he is always thinking up different options or ways to do things or improve things and this has been so important and continues to be. When I get frustrated about an aspect of business, he is the one that listens, really listens and I know he does, because sometimes it can be days later that he will pop up and say he has seen something or read something that may be of help.

Secondly, I would say my sister, Mel. She is now my business partner and I am so grateful that she was keen to come on the journey with me! Mel is the creative one, she is the one that makes our designs come to life and she inspires me daily. Mel is the one that I can throw crazy ideas out to and she will tell me to go for it, but helps work out any bumps along the way. No.97 would not be what it is without her, and neither would I.

Thirdly, my husband, Ash. He has supported my little dream, before I really knew it was my dream. He is such an amazing dad to our tiny human, Ari and puts in so much effort to make my life a little less crazy when going from teaching to mum to business owner. I consider myself a very lucky girl to have such a huge support.

Kate Hogan Quote 2

What did you have in place before you made the leap?

Not much! I thought I had time (I was going on maternity leave) but that changed once I realised how much time a newborn takes up. Other than that, it was all a bit of a gamble.

What was your defining ‘I can’t do this anymore’ moment that lead you to the leap?

I wouldn’t say I had a ‘I can’t do this anymore’ moment, it was more a ‘are you really going to do this?’ moment. It was a clear decision to take my little market stall in a new direction, which scared the hell out of me and excited me at the same time.

Kate Hogan Quote 3

How did/do you overcome/work with the fear that comes with leaping? How do you decide to choose courage?

I suppose it all came back to that moment of ‘let’s do this properly’. It was the point when a few things decided to pop back in my mind. I began asking questions like, why did I do that small business course a few years back? Why am I getting up early to go and set up markets? Why am I making candles into the night? And the same answer kept coming up – I loved it! I really enjoyed the creativity and freedom in taking something where I wanted it to go, not where someone else thought it should go. I didn’t care about the countless hours I was putting in, because it was what I chose to do; no one asked me to do it. I think at that point it was fairly clear where I was headed.

Kate Hogan Quote 4

How did you fund your leap?

The business had slow growth in terms of its early days in market stalls. I initially invested $350 in supplies. I was actually just making candles as wedding favours for our guests when a friend was doing a market and asked me to join her. I asked her what the hell I was supposedly selling and she suggested my candles. So, I did, and I sold out. From my market sales, I was able to fund the leap into the small business world. I also went back teaching part-time to contribute to my household. As it was my decision to start the business, I didn’t want it to become a drain on our personal finances.

Kate Hogan Quote 5

What other leaps have you made in the past?

This would have to be the biggest leap I have done. However, when I was 18 I went on a gap year to the UK on my own, and that was pretty big for an 18 year old girl from a little country town.

What are you most fearful of? How do you deal with it?

In regards to the business, I am always fearful that a new product won’t be received well. I get nervous every.single.time we release a new product. I wouldn’t say I ‘deal’ with it, I suppose I just cross my everything and hope that people love it as much as we do.

I am also fearful that the time and energy I invest in the business is taking away from time with my family. I try to deal with it by making sure I take time out and remove myself from work, whether it’s turning emails off or not going to the warehouse on weekends. It’s a balancing act, that I am not sure I always get right.

Kate Hogan Quote 6

How would you rate your level of happiness about making your leap?
1 being sad, 10 being rad.

10! Definitely a 10. I used to think, imagine if I could do this full-time! Now that it is looking like a reality, I am ecstatic!

What’s the biggest upside to making the leap?

The joy I have when going to ‘work’, if you can call it that. And the pride in creating and growing something from nothing.

Kate Hogan Quote 7

What’s the biggest downside to making the leap? And how do you get through it?

The constant balancing act between work and family time. Lines are blurred when it’s your business. You don’t get to leave things for Monday. My mind won’t let me.

What might be your next leap?

I feel we are constantly taking small leaps as we build a broader product range and build our brand.

Kate Hogan Quote 8

Who do you admire who also made the leap?

Sarah Davies, she is one of my besties and creator of Minty Magazine. She has managed to create a beautiful magazine and build a loyal and organic audience over such a small time, all while being super mum to three gorgeous kids and a constant inspiration.

A piece of advice for someone with an itch to leap?

Start. Just start. Even if it is a small step, that step may be the start of a run up to the biggest leap of your life!

Kate Hogan Quote 9

Right now I’m:

Hearing: Sia ‘Space Between’
Eating: Dark chocolate
Drinking: Peppermint tea with the dark chocolate is the perfect combination!
Reading: The Wrong Girl by Zoë Foster-Blake
Loving: Listening to my little man Ari say new things every day, such an amazing thing!

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Maybe this week is time to light a No.97 candle, pause for a moment and just ponder, ‘what if?’ It is a leap year after all.

lovingly Kylie x


2016
IS A LEAP YEAR

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